By Hannah Lazar, Chattanooga, TN (UTC Echo) –University and UT system leaders defended the decision to appoint Grady Bogue as interim chancellor after UTC’s chancellor, Roger Brown, announced that he will be retiring earlier than previously planned.
In a press conference Sept. 10, Brown said he will be retiring officially as of Sept. 30 after going on administrative leave on Sept. 20.
Brown cited the death of his wife Carolyn as a major reason for leaving earlier than expected. He said he needs time to “heal, reflect, and prepare for the next challenge” in his life.
At the press conference, UT system president Joe DiPietro introduced Bogue, a former professor of leadership and policy studies at the University of Tennessee, who will take over as interim chancellor.
In an email to faculty and staff, DiPietro said Bogue has served as chancellor of Louisiana State University in Shreveport, interim chancellor of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, administrative staff at the University of Memphis, and chief academic officer for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
Bogue spoke briefly about plans he has during his time at the University. He said he will work tirelessly to “give a voice to everyone at the University, students, faculty and staff.”
DiPietro said Bogue will not be a candidate for the permanent chancellor position.
DiPietro said at the press conference that the search for the permanent chancellor has already begun, and officials hope to vote on a candidate by the UT Board of Trustees meeting in February.
DiPietro also pointed out the many great things Brown brought to the University under his tenure as chancellor, such as presiding over the 125th anniversary of the University, overseeing the construction of a new library, and increasing enrollment steadily.
Robert Fisher, a Clarksville, Tenn., sophomore, said the announcement was not entirely unexpected, but he feels Brown is doing what is best for the University community.
Nathan Harlan, SGA chief of staff and a Columbia, Tenn., junior, said Brown always put students first. “That’s one thing I can attest to,” he said. “He’s always put the students first and the University first.”
Bradley Bell, a Knoxville senior and SGA president, said he serves on the chancellor’s search committee. “I’m really excited about the changes about to come, and I just feel like we have to trust the University and the search committee, and they will always keep the interests of the Mocs at heart.”
But, not everyone thinks Bogue was the ideal candidate to replace Brown. Roland Carter, Ruth S. Holmberg professor of music, said he feels the University would have been better served by someone coming from the UTC community.
Carter said Dr. Richard Brown, chief financial officer and senior vice chancellor for finance, operations, and information technology, would have been the most natural choice to fill in while the University searches for a new chancellor.
Carter said he has “nothing against Dr. Bogue,” but said it will take the full six months Bogue is at UTC to really get to know the institutions, and that Richard Brown will end up doing a lot of the work anyway.
He said the choice to pull a candidate from outside the UTC community is an “insult to the leadership” here and that the choice was indicative of a larger negative attitude toward the University.
Carter also said he is a sort of “informal facilitator” for the black faculty at UTC, and on that level, he feels that Richard Brown being passed over for the interim chancellorship goes along with several administrative decisions recently that show a “lack of service to diversity.”
“It’s very much implied in the decision,” he said.
Richard Brown released a statement responding to Carter’s assertions, saying “Dr. Bogue is extremely well-qualified to lead this campus and I look forward to working with him.”
Chuck Cantrell, associate vice chancellor for communication and marketing, said the University could not comment on the decisions involved with the appointment, as it was in the hands of the UT system president.
“We welcome Dr. Bogue as our interim chancellor at UTC,” Cantrell said. “He has the experience to lead our campus during this time of transition and he is excited about this opportunity. There is no question that the campus leadership is in very good hands.”
Carter said he and several others have speculated that Richard Brown may not have been chosen for the interim chancellorship because he may be considering applying for the permanent chancellor position.
Richard Brown was unavailable for comment on this issue.
Gina Stafford, assistant vice president and director of communications with the UT system administration, said Bogue was chosen because he emerged as the candidate with the strongest background.
As for Richard Brown not being asked to fill in the interim chancellor position, Stafford said “it was necessary that the person chosen not be a candidate for the full position.” She said Bogue expressed no desire to fill the permanent position, which, combined with his excellent background, made him a perfect candidate for the interim position.
She said she was not willing to speak for Richard Brown, but that if he chose to apply for the permanent chancellor position, “he would be given every consideration.”
Brown said in an impassioned speech that he would always be a part of the Chattanooga community and the University community. “I want all of you to keep my cell phone in your Rolodex,” he said. Brown said he would continue to be involved with the University in different capacities.
Brown is among others who have left the administration of the University in the past several months. Phil Oldham, former provost, Bob Lyon, former vice chancellor for University advancement, Rick Hart, former athletic director, and Herbert Burhenn, former dean of arts and sciences have all retired, left, or stepped down since the summer term.
Click here for more on recent administrative changes.